Jets head coach Rex Ryan reacts after a play against...

Jets head coach Rex Ryan reacts after a play against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Rex Ryan faces an uncertain future as his 2-8 Jets play out the season with no realistic hope of a playoff berth. But as team owner Woody Johnson mulls Ryan's fate during what could be the final six games of his six-year run with the Jets, at least one factor might convince the owner to give the coach one more chance.

Despite a fourth straight year without a playoff berth, Ryan has not lost the locker room. In fact, there might not be a single player in that room who wants to see Ryan gone. And although it's not unusual for players on losing teams to support an embattled coach, the passion and loyalty that players show in talking about Ryan seems genuine.

They hope that counts for something when it comes to deciding Ryan's future. The players' message to management: Keep the coach.

"Yeah, I want him back,'' defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. "Why wouldn't I want the coach who brought me in to come back?''

But with the Jets going nowhere this season, wouldn't retaining Ryan lead to questions about the team's ability to turn things around?

"Yeah? And somebody else comes in here [next year] and goes 2-8, then what?'' Richardson asked rhetorically. "If you want to let him build this team, then let him build this team. He still has this locker room.''

The reason Ryan still has command of the room: his unflagging confidence and a magnetic personality that shines through despite the record. Ryan even talked a little smack Thursday, boasting that the Jets are a lot better now than they were when they last played the Bills in a 43-23 loss on Oct. 26.

"Let's see where we're at now,'' he said of the impending matchup against the Bills, which will be played in Detroit Monday night because of heavy snow in Buffalo. "Let's see how much better we are, because we think we're a lot better. And we'll need to be. But the proof will be in the pudding. We know we're a lot better football team than the last time we played them.''

It's that kind of confidence, even with seemingly nothing left to play for, that keeps the players loyal to Ryan.

"Rex is a great coach, and I definitely want him back,'' tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "He's always been a very passionate coach and we all enjoy playing for him. The record isn't what we want it to be, but it doesn't mean we can't continue to strive to do the things that we know to be right. You look around this locker room and you've got guys that enjoy playing with each other.''

"This year isn't what we had hoped for from a record standpoint, but I don't think it changes the quality of coach or the quality of people that we have in this room.''

Demario Davis said the fact the Jets have had almost no internal bickering this season is a testament to Ryan's leadership.

"That's rare,'' the linebacker said. "You don't see that, especially in a place like New York, with the media the way it is. For us to face this adversity, to have such high expectations and we blow those expectations, it could have gone a lot of different ways. But the reason we stayed together talks about his leadership, and it says a lot about him.''

And about keeping Ryan next year? "I can't see myself playing for another coach,'' Davis said. "Rex is a great defensive mind and just a great coach in general. Players love him. The only thing you can ask for out of a head coach is that he creates a system that everybody buys into and that people go out and play for him . . . I feel like he's built a foundation for a winning organization. Sometimes you just have to give it time to let it fall into place. You have to give it time to jell together. I'm as loyal to him as I am to my teammates, but even more so to him, just because I really believe in what he's doing.''

Still no definitive word on Ryan's future, but if he returns, it will be endorsed by his entire locker room. Although he deserves his share of the blame for 2-8, there's something to be said for the unanimous support he still enjoys among the players. It's something Johnson can't ignore as he ponders his options.

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